Shark Tank’s “Mr. Wonderful” Kevin O’Leary Thinks Women Make Better CEOs

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He may the mean-mugging, snide remark-making ruthless business investor on the hit TV show ‘Shark Tank’, but there’s more to shark Kevin O’Leary, aka “Mr. Wonderful” than meets the eye.

A quick background on his business credentials, he is a a Canadian entrepreneur, investor, journalist, writer, financial commentator and television personality. He is the founder of many business ventures including the O’Leary Financial Group and is valued to be worth as estimated $300 million. Needless to say, when it comes to business, this guy knows what’s up.

So in an interview with Entrepreneur.com‘s Carol Roth, it blew us away to read that he believes women make better CEOs, and who better to attest to that than a man who has 55% of the companies in his portfolio headed up by women.

A study by Fortune magazine in 2014 found that companies with female CEOs yield better long turn investments on the stock market. Another report specifically related to the financial market shows that hedge fund companies headed up by women have been getting greater returns for investments when there are A) more women present on the board, or B) headed up by a female.

There are a number of different factors which are speculated to be the reason for this. Women make different business decisions to men, and they take less risks. In an economic climate which is just now starting to recover from the biggest collapse in history, we can see why taking less risky maneuvers has paid off for investors.

Kevin O’Leary who runs a billion dollar business empire says it is an easy choice for him to make.

“Women make better CEOs. All things being equal, given the choice between a woman and a man, I would pick the woman every time.”

We’re starting to see the real reason he has the nickname “Mr. wonderful”!

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He has purposefully decided in the past two years to invest in more companies where women were in charge, based on “pragmatic financial data.”

“I’ve invested in 20 different entrepreneurial and mid-cap companies and I’ve made more money with the women executives. It’s that simple,” said O’Leary, crediting women with getting him both faster exits and higher returns.

“Attributes that I have observed are that they take less risk, they are more goal orientated in terms of setting targets and meeting them. If they say, ‘I am going to expand capacity or we’re going to increase distribution in the next quarter’, they deliver,” he explained. “It’s not an intuitive feeling. It’s actual hardcore results.”

He’s certainly not the only male head of a company looking for more female talent in the boardroom. Tupperware Brands’ CEO Rick Goings told MSN in an interview on Feb 26 that his company are in a business of looking for more women in positions of leadership.

40% of the Tupperware board is made up of women and 35% of their business units are also run by females. So why do he and people like Kevin O’Leary have no problem with women in the boardroom and others do?

“Education!” said Rick. “They need to wake up and understand this isn’t social service, this is a business economic principle. We do this because it makes a lot of sense and it’s leveraging power. We have three group presidents in the world, the highest level in our corporation, and two of the three are women.”

His point is that when more corporations become aware of the great economic benefit of having women in top level managerial and leadership positions in a company, they wouldn’t be so reluctant, and at the same time they need to see how willing the women are to take these jobs.

Rick was also present at the ‘He For She’ campaign’s second phase launch during the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, where UN Women Executive Direction Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka and many other world and thought leaders came together to put emphasis on gender equality from an economic stand point. His views on just creating more awareness of the benefits and facts are very important, as are Kevin O’Leary’s thoughts.

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Sheryl Sandberg has become popular for her “lean in” movement which is encouraging a whole new generation of women to not just ask for a seat at the figurative (or literal!) boardroom table, but to take it. A lot of why women hold back and aren’t holding more top leadership and management positions is they feel they are not worth what they are asking for or not adequate.

They certainly approach the workplace differently and perhaps a little too cautiously, but when they do get it seems they are worth their weight in gold. Kevin O’Leary doesn’t even view it as a gender issue, but a business decision, and women just happen to be the wiser investment.

“When I am faced with two opportunities, whether it’s large cap, mid cap or otherwise, and the CEO is a woman, I tend to pick that option first because it’s the path of least resistance. I’m not looking at it from a social or moral point of view; I’m looking at it from a financial return point of view. I just make more money with women, period.”

Women currently only hold about 4.6% of CEO positions at S&P 500 companies, according to Catalyst. Some of these women you may have heard of, many of the brands and companies you do for sure:

Meg Whitman, Hewlett Packard. Ginny Rommetty, IBM. Indra Nooyi, Pepsi. Marissa Mayer, Yahoo. Mary Barra, General Motors. And the great thing is that a lot of these women are becoming more well-known in everyday culture because of additional media exposure and the huge emphasis on getting more women into top leadership positions from women such as Sheryl Sandberg.

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Another trait Kevin is drawn to is that female CEOs on average (at least the ones he has experience with) are less cavalier than men in their approach to business decisions.

“I look at it from the operational side. I’m also in financial services and often the women who do analysis and trading have less volatility. So, it’s not just about achieving the highest returns, it’s about achieving a high return with lower volatility and that has a value. It must be that as they make their decisions…they dig harder or… they are less ‘cowboyish.’ I’d rather have a smoother ride. I have very few examples of times where I haven’t gotten my capital returned or made money with managers who are women,” he added.

Writer Carol goes on to cite a Credit Suisse report from September 2014 which examined market trends with women in senior management positions showed that companies with more than one woman their board outperform those with none. They came to this conclusion by looking at 28,000 senior management positions at over 3000 companies worldwide. So it turns out gender diversity is actually more about benefiting stakeholders and companies, rather than just the women themselves.

Just like you can’t argue with science, you also can’t argue with numbers!

Mr. Wonderful believes the majority of board members on different types of companies are still men, but that will change over time. Oh and it companies ignore the gender diversification data, they are making a big mistake.

“It’s a huge mistake. … It’s a huge disadvantage not to bring women into management. Women are the best bets. you should cast your net widely when you are networking. You should be using all of the tools that are available to you.”

Of course, women need to understand that the first step begins with them. Leadership positions are theirs for the taking as more and more data like the aforementioned is indisputable. And if we’re looking at the last few years as a market trend forecast, it seems the inclusion of more women is only going to grow.

So lean in, and know your worth. Step up to the plate ladies, because there are plenty of men who are on your side and want you in that top spot. And if you happen to be in the right place, perhaps you might even end up working for Kevin O’Leary himself because we already know how favorably he looks on female CEOs.

“If I want high returns with low volatility, that equals a woman.”

We have a deal, Mr. Wonderful!

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  1. Pingback: How Defying Stereotypes Has Become A Recipe For Success For Women In Many Industries

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